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HERE A GULET, THERE A GULET

June 29th, 2010 No comments

We see them everywhere—gulets.  But what is a gulet?  Most sources seem to agree that they are a modern adaptation of an ancient cargo ship design that plied the waters of Southern Turkey centuries ago.  The original gulets were wooden ships with two wooden masts,  broad sterns and high sides.

Gulets can be schooners. . .

Gulets can be schooners. . .

 

or Ketch rigged.

or Ketch rigged.

Since we arrived in Turkey we have seen hundreds of gulets—most modern replicas that capture the drama of the ancient design but in a motor sailer that may have masts, but occasionally no booms—in other words, they really don’t sail very much. 

They can be small. . .

They can be small. . .

or very large!

or very large!

Many crewed charter boats and day tripper boats are gulets, but they make a very luxurious, spacious private yacht as well.

They can be varnished. . .

They can be varnished. . .

or shiny awlgrip.

or shiny awlgrip.

They can be modern with aluminum masts. . .

They can be modern with aluminum masts. . .

or old classics with wooden masts.

or old classics with wooden masts and beautiful lines.

We were forewarned by cruisers who had already spent time in Turkey that they are very proud of their flag, and that it would be improper to put another burgee under the Turkish courtesy flag on the same halyard.  The Turkish flag is ubiquitous and normally very large.

Irrespective of size or age they proudly fly the Turkish flag. . .

Irrespective of size or age they proudly fly the Turkish flag. . .

unless it's registered in Delaware and flying a small stars and stripes!

unless it's registered in Delaware and flying a small stars and stripes!

Even traditional gulets avail themselves of the tax advantages of flying a U.S.A. flag, although to their credit it is a very small stars and stripes offset by a large Turkish “courtesy” flag.

Categories: Europe, Turkey Tags:

TURKISH WATER SPORTS

June 29th, 2010 No comments

We have only been in Turkey a few days, but we are very impressed by the variety of water sports that are available off the beaches that line most of the Bodrum Peninsula coast.  So far we have spent time in Akyarlar, Bitez and Gumbet as we worked our way to Bodrum.  Each harbor was a little larger and more touristy, with Gumbet being a “suburb” of Bodrum.  But the one thing they had in common was people enjoying the water in a variety of ways. 

Ubiqutous party boat

Ubiquitous party boat

There are the usual day tripper boats that blare loud music and take people to a beach or two to swim, have lunch and then return to their hotels. 

But also more active sports, like scuba diving, water skiing and wind surfing 

Underwater adventurers abound

Underwater adventurers abound

To Ski or Sea Doo?

To Ski or Sea Doo?

For the leisurely inclined there are kayaks and water pedal boats. 

Two people, one paddle

Two people, one paddle

Windsurfers & paddle boats share the water

Windsurfers & paddle boats share the water

Some water sports take place on dry land. . .

Some water sports take place on dry land. . .

Somewhere in between the “active” and totally passive sports are the ones that involve the adrenalin rush of just holding on for dear life—there is no end to the assortment of paraphernalia that gets towed behind a boat at a high rate of speed, sometimes going airborne. 

If this is a "banana boat" what do you call the people riding it?

If this is a "banana boat" what do you call the people riding it?

Lots of screaming on the turns

Lots of screaming on the turns

Think they got a group discount for 5?

Think they got a group discount?

Flat on your back and airborne--the ultimate thrill!

Flat on your back and airborne--the ultimate thrill!

Even Kent got into the action by renting a windsurfer in Bitez.  The “old man” did himself proud. 

Like riding a bicycle. . .who says this is a kid's sport.

Like riding a bicycle. . .who says this is a kid's sport.

OK, so there are more kids than seniors.

OK, so there are more kids than seniors. . .but my sail is bigger.

This is kidda fun. . .

This is kidda fun. . .

but he isn't giving up kayaking.

but he isn't giving up kayaking.

Then there is the old fashioned water sport of sailing, and “just messing about in boats” of all sizes and shapes.

WOW is right

WOW is right

Destiny hangs on hook in Gumet

Destiny at anchor in Gumet

Obviously, our favorite place to enjoy the water is on Destiny whether charging along in 20 kts. on the beam or hanging on a hook in an exotic anchorage.

Categories: Europe, Turkey Tags:

FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF TURKEY

June 25th, 2010 No comments
Approaching Turkey

Approaching Turkey

 We arrived on the Bodrum Peninsula on June 23rd after a passage of less than 4 NM from Kos, Greece and checked into Turgutreis Marina, a very upscale marina at the eastern end of the peninsula. 

The land entrance to Turgutreis Marina

The land entrance to Turgutreis Marina

The marina was a Port of Entry into Turkey, and offered to process paperwork which made it very convenient, although expensive at 69 euros per night (plus an extra 20 euros for the paperwork)—we felt like we were back in Croatia at that price.  It did have a supermarket, swimming pool, and shopping center–also very pricey.

The marina is ultra modern and parklike--with great security.

The marina is ultra modern and parklike--with great security.

For those that prefer the ocean there is a beach adjacent to the marina

For those that prefer the ocean there is a beach adjacent to the marina

Modern sculpture at entrance to fishing harbor

Modern sculpture at entrance to fishing harbor

Since the marina did all the paperwork necessary for our Transit Log and the officials—all FOUR of them who needed to sign off on the paperwork are located adjacent to the marina we managed to clear into the country without too much hassle.  However, they do require that the paperwork be processed in a particular order and as luck would have it the second of the necessary stamps (yes, ink stamping is done here just as in Greece) was by passport control and no one was in the office.  The harbormaster took pity on me and called the official who said “come back at 5 p.m.”  OK, we can do that. 

C Dock at Turgutreis

C Dock at Turgutreis

In the meantime, a thunderstorm came charging through the marina with lightning strikes very close by.  Kent was happy to have the boat washed in the torrential downpour that accompanied the storm, which fortunately cleared through before 5 p.m. in time for me to tend to the paperwork. 

Thunderstorm Downpour

Thunderstorm Downpour

Arriving back at the customs/immigration offices I was sent to get a visa which was 15 euros per person­­–euros, mind you, not Turkish lira.  It struck me as strange that the Turkish government would not accept Turkish lira which was all the cash I had since the marina office had taken all my euros.  I was sent to the nearby duty free shop to change Turkish lira back into euros so I could pay for the visas.  Are you as confused as I am?

Finally, I have all four stamps and we are legal, except for Jolie, but no one seems to care that she is here.  Jolie was seen by a vet in Kos to sign off on her EU pet passport, but as usual no one cared to see it.

We were rewarded for the turmoil of the day with a beautiful sunset. 

After the rain a beautiful sunset

After the rain a beautiful sunset

The next day we couldn’t help but notice that there were many more US flag vessels on our dock than we have seen anywhere else.  It seems that there is a tax advantage to registering your vessel in Delaware, which is rather amusing since none of these boats will ever see the US.  When the US flag is smaller than the Turkish “courtesy flag” we are quite sure it is NOT a US boat–although we did meet one US citizen (naturalized and Turkish citizen as well) who actually lived in Chicago.

"Delaware". . .not in this new life!

"Delaware". . .not in this new life!

Another pretender

Another pretender

Big yacht. . .small USA flag. . .get the picture?

Big yacht. . .small USA flag. . .get the picture?

The piece 'd resistance!

The piece 'd resistance!

Our first full day in Turkey was spent doing what we always do first—get sim cards for our cell phones and an internet connection.  We were pleasantly surprised that both were accomplished with enough time left to tour the local market and mosque. 

Kent samples tea and candy

Kent samples tea and candy

The market has spice stands

The market has spice stands

Mosque

Mosque

Mosque has an elaborate wall-to-wall rug and is bathed in light

Mosque has an elaborate wall-to-wall rug and is bathed in light

 

. . .and a massive chandelier that hangs from the tome

. . .and a massive chandelier that hangs from the tome

Kent got a whopper of a shiner, and he didn’t even know he had hurt himself until I told him to look in a mirror–apparently he ran into a shroud while taking down the sun cover–at least he is sticking to that story. 

What a shiner!

What a shiner!

At 69 euros a day, we were equally anxious to get out of the marina and find a quiet nearby anchorage.  The seaside village of Akyarlar less than 5 NM away seemed perfect.

Beach clubs line the shore at Akyarlar

Beach clubs line the shore at Akyarlar

It is a family friendly spot. . .

It is a family friendly spot. . .

with a touch of sophistication.

with a touch of sophistication.

 

Destiny anchored off Akyarlar

Not to mention large resorts such as the one behind Destiny

The town has its own mosque—we are getting accustomed to the amplified chanting that emanates from the mosques calling the faithful to prayers several times a day.  It has replaced ringing church bells as a reminder that we are in a Muslim country with Eastern traditions. 

Mosque at Akyarlar

Mosque at Akyarlar

However, we haven’t noticed a rush of sun worshipers from the beach when the mosque announces prayers.   

Kent took Jolie ashore for her evening walk in the inflatable kayak as he often does when we are anchored close to shore.  While shoving off from the landing at a nearby restaurant a large wake hit, toppling them both into the drink.  They arrived back to the boat soaking wet, and Jolie got an unplanned bath to de-salt her. 

Before the unexpected swim

Before the unexpected swim

 We decided to make it a “vacation day” and hang here another night after taking a walk ashore—despite the fact that the waiters at the restaurant were still laughing about the kayak incident when we walked by today.

Full Moon over Akyarlar

Full Moon over Akyarlar

So what are our first impressions of Turkey?

The people are friendly although fewer speak English and those who do are not as fluent as in other countries–on the other hand, we speak no Turkish, so we have found that “Universal hand signs” are effective.

The government officials are as “officious” as in Greece, and the paperwork still seems mindless, but at least we don’t have to check in at every port, only entering and leaving the country.

Kent was able to find Schweppe’s tonic water in the supermarket, although the meat selections are minimal.

The country is greener than most of the Greek islands we have just left, probably due to the greater rainfall.  There is wind, but less than in Greece and the temperature drops to a comfortable level at night.

All in all, we think we will enjoy Turkey.  More adventure to follow.

Categories: Europe, Turkey Tags:

EAST TOWARD TURKEY

June 22nd, 2010 No comments

As we left the lee of Santorini, mid-morning on Friday, June 18th our destination was the island of Astipalaia about 50 NM east.   Astipalaia is referred to as the “butterfly island” because of its shape with a narrow isthmus connecting two parts of the island that fan out as near mirror images. 

Passing north of Anafi the wind died

Passing north of Anafi the wind died

The course took us north of the island of Anafi—not much more than a rock—and a north wind on the beam at a steady 20 kts. made for quite a sleigh ride.  We were averaging 7+kts. under reefed main and jib, except for a brief period of motoring as we passed close to Anafi and experienced some confused seas and land breeze.  As the day wore on the wind increased and so did the seas.

Approaching the tip of Astipalaia the wind had increased to 25-28 kts. and was gusting over 30 kts.  We motored the last several miles after rounding up into the wind through white caps that stormed across the open bay. 

We arrived at Maltazana, an anchorage protected from all directions but still subject to gusts from the meltemi off the shore.  It took us two tries to set the anchor on the soft mud covered with weed in wind that was still blowing 25 kts. 

Anchored in Astipalaia. . .one of several times!

Anchored in Astipalaia. . .one of several times!

The anchorage was large and there were only three other boats anchored, which we appreciated since the meltemi was forecast to be Force 6 all through the night.  “Force 6” is 22-27 kts., but we know to expect 30+kts. at a minimum when it is forecast.  True to our expectations, the wind howled all night averaging 29-30 kts. and Kent was awakened at about 4 a.m. by the anchor alarm and spent an hour in the cockpit ensuring that the anchor had reset and we were no longer dragging.

By 9 a.m. the anchor dragged again. . . and once again, this time after three tries, we finally got it set on a patch of sand.  It was still blowing hard when we went through this exercise, and as always it is stressful despite “no imminent danger” as the Captain contended.

With the meltemi still howling throughout the day our anchorage picked up four more boats, and now we had to worry about other boats dragging on us.  We were fairly certain at that point that ours was well set.  Sure enough one boat drops perilously close to the location of ours then decided to move, while we held our breath waiting to see if our anchor came up as well.  Thankfully, it did not. 

We had planned a lay day in Maltazana to rest up from the long passage the day before, but it did not prove to be as relaxing as we hoped.  With the strong breeze, it was a good day to dry some laundry and update the blog.

From Maltazana, we continued northeast to the island of Kos, anchoring off the little seaside town of Kamares on Sunday.  Kamares has a tiny harbor which is filled with fishing boats, but is protected from the meltemi by it location on the south coast of Kos.  

Approaching east end of Kos

Approaching east end of Kos

On a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon locals were either fishing or sunning.

We don't know if they caught anything, but the scenery is breathtaking

Who says "you can't eat the view"

Sunday at Kamares Beach

Sunday at Kamares Beach

Jolie, not being a local, got a bath instead of the beach.

Had to get the olive oil off her tail. . .a funny story!

You won't believe how she got olive oil on her tail!

We anchored just off the beach and had dinner ashore at Sebastian’s Taverna, where the owner’s son greeted us in English, and said he “had spent a year in the U.S. and would probably still be there if he wasn’t engaged to a Greek girl at the time.”  The food was wonderful and very inexpensive.   

View of Destiny from Sebastian's Taverna

View of Destiny from Sebastian's Taverna

The entire south shore of Kos is dotted with hotels, resorts and beach clubs of varying sizes.  As we made our way to the town of Kos at the northeast end of the island, we passed some large and seemingly luxurious resorts that offered wind surfing, small sailing boats and parasailing.  One resort had an elevator down the hillside to the beach below. 

Outdoor Elevator to Beach

Outdoor Elevator to Beach

Upscale resorts dot the coast of Kos

Upscale resorts dot the coast of Kos

Parasailing anyone?

Parasailing anyone?

The Kos Marina is reportedly one of the best in Greece and also one of the more expensive we have found at 31 euros a day—still slightly less than Zea Marina in Athens.  The staff is very helpful and there are tailed lines to the quay which makes docking much easier. 

Kos Marina

Kos Marina

Marina sunset

Marina sunset

The Old Harbor is next to a Fortress from which you can overlook the town and the new marina in the distance.   

Old Fortress

Old Fortress

New marina viewed from Fortress

New marina viewed from Fortress

Looking east from Kos you see mainland Turkey just a few miles away. 

Turkey in the distance

Turkey in the distance

The town is lush with flowers this time of year, particularly oleander which grows to massive proportions. 

Colorful flowers and umbrellas dot the shore

Colorful flowers and umbrellas along the sea walk

Profusion of oleander

Ancient building draped in color

Oleander everywhere!

Oleander everywhere!

It wouldn’t be Greece without some Roman influence.

Roman ruins in Kos

Roman ruins in Kos

We arrived in Corfu on April 22nd and June 22nd will be our last full day in Greece before departing for Turkey, although it won’t be our last time here.  It is virtually impossible to go west without once again passing through Greece, so we’ll have another chance to see additional islands the next time through–Rhodes and Simi to look forward to.  It could be in two months, or next year.  You can spend years wandering through Greece and its islands, and we have met people who do.  We haven’t found that one country yet that so captivates us that we don’t want to move on to the next one–who knows maybe it will be Turkey.

Categories: Europe, Greece Tags:

HEAVENLY SANTORINI

June 19th, 2010 No comments
View through the center of the caldera

View through the center of the caldera

Greeks call this lovely island which was devastated by earthquakes and a volcanic eruption sometime around 1600 B.C. “Thira”, but visitors call it “heavenly”.  There is something mystical about being at the epicenter of a still active volcano–it last erupted in the 1956 killing a number of people and causing earthquakes that destroyed many buildings in Fira and Oia (“E-ah”). 

Oia perched over the north end of the caldera which is 6 mi. by 4 mi.

Oia perched over the north end of the caldera which is 6 mi. by 4 mi.

We had visited Santorini several years ago the way many of the 1 Million visitors a year do, by ferry or cruise ship. 

1 Million Visitors arrive by ferry. . .

1 Million Visitors arrive by ferry. . .

or cruise ship

or cruise ship

Ferries come, and they go--thankfully!

Ferries come, and they go--thankfully!

We dreamed of returning for a more “up close and personal” view, although at that time we never imagined it would be on Destiny as part of our Med adventure. 

We motored into the caldera from the nearby island of Ios in the mid-day haze, heads tilted upward to view the mass of white buildings with scattered blue church domes that make up the towns of Oia and Fira—both sitting atop layers of volcanic rock that rise thousands of feet from sea level.

Cave houses built into side of hill

Cave houses built into side of hill

 

Rim of the caldera rises to nearly 1,000 ft. in places

Rim of the caldera rises to nearly 1,000 ft. in places

Fira from sea level looks like frosting on the rim

Fira from sea level looks like frosting on the rim

Lava rock makes up the volcanic plug in the center of the caldera

Lava rock makes up the volcanic plug in the center of the caldera

Although there are so-called “anchorages” within the caldera, they tend to be very deep and with rocky bottoms that make anchoring not a good choice, especially if you want to leave the boat.  We observed boats anchored in nearly 100 ft. of water at the base of the tram that goes to Fira.

Traditional boats take tourists through the caldera

Traditional boats take tourists through the caldera

Cruise ships anchor off the Fira and deposit thousands of passengers a day onto the island to be whisk from sea level to the town by tram, or more slowly by donkey. 

Cruise ships off Fira

Cruise ships off Fira

Donkeys or lost souls. . .

Donkeys or lost souls. . .

It is said that the donkeys contain the souls of persons condemned to purgatory who do their penance by carrying heavy loads up the torturous path in blinding heat–possibly a myth propagated by the animal rights groups who protest the donkey’s use for this purpose.

After making our way to Vlikadha Marina on the southern end of the island and securing Destiny, we had a swim at the nearby beach–black sand from volcanic rock and limestone rocks that float on the surface of the water, make this a unique spot.

The southern coast of Santorini is also dramatic

The southern coast of Santorini is also dramatic

Black sand beach near marina

Black sand beach near marina

The next day we spent a luxurious day 36 hours at a small hotel in Oia recommended by Fodor.  Delfini (“dolphin” in Greek) Villas are set on the steep hillside of Oia just below the blue dome of St. George’s Church. 

Classic Oia

Classic Oia

Our “cave room” accommodations included a bedroom, living room, kitchen and bath with “waterfall” style shower head—not to mention air conditioning and an abundance of hot water.  What more could a cruising sailor on a land holiday ask for?  The small swimming pool just outside our door was the perfect place to cool off and enjoy an unforgettable view of the caldera.

Our private terrace at Delfini Villas adjacent to pool

Our private terrace at Delfini Villas adjacent to pool

Jolie checks out the pool at Delfini

Jolie checks out the pool at Delfini

Kent relaxes outside our cave house

Kent relaxes outside our cave house

We have stayed in castles and other luxury accommodations throughout Europe, but this little hotel offered most of the same amenities (slippers, toiletries, monogrammed French sheets) at a fraction of the price. 

Love these sheets!!!

Love these sheets!!!

This is the life. . .not to mention the view!

This is the life. . .not to mention the view!

Jolie preferred relaxing in the shade

Jolie preferred relaxing in the shade

Oia has a special charm that blends sunshine, blue sky and white buildings with splashes of natural color from flowers.

A marble sidewalk runs from one end of Oia to the other--mid-day it is deserted

A marble sidewalk runs from one end of Oia to the other--mid-day it is deserted

Buildings cascade down the hillside in Oia

Buildings cascade down the hillside in Oia

Dining al fresco in Oia

Dining al fresco in Oia

Oia also has more than its share of Greek churches and chapels, that make a striking statement set against the sky and water in the distance.

Chapel

Chapel 2

Classic Greek Church

Classic Greek Church

Famous Motif

Famous Motif

Like all visitors we went to the north end of the island to view the sunset, which dissolved into haze and clouds before the appointed hour, but was impressive nonetheless.

Sunset brings everyone out

Sunset brings everyone out

Windmill at Dusk

Windmill at Dusk

 

Hazy Santorini Sunset

Hazy Santorini Sunset

We checked out of Delfini Villas at noon and stopped in Fira for lunch on the way back to the marina. 

Fira Cafe--See and be Seen

Fira Cafe--See and be Seen

Jolie was served water in a crystal bowl before our wine came

Jolie was served water in a crystal bowl before our wine came

The difference between the two towns is striking.  Fira is much more crowded–not surprising when there are as many as five cruise ships in the harbor at one time.  We enjoyed revisiting the town, with its narrow pedestrian streets, lined with jewelry shops and souvenir shops, but were happy to leave right after lunch.  The heat at mid-day is overwhelming in June and the really hot weather hasn’t yet arrived.

Santorini, like its wine, is dry and quite heavenly.  We’ll be back!

Categories: Europe, Greece Tags: